Diyah Pera/The CW
February 09, 2018 at 08:21 AM EST


TV Show
Action Adventure, Crime
run date
Stephen Amell, Emily Bett Rickards, David Ramsey
The CW
Current Status
In Season
We gave it a C+

Arrow‘s sixth season has been interestingly uneven and messy so far, but the one consistently good thing about it has been Michael Emerson’s performance as Cayden James. In the beginning, it was easy to just to say Emerson was doing the same thing he always does — playing a cold, reserved brainiac. But as the season has worn on, it’s been clear that isn’t the case. As Cayden, Emerson is bloody terrifying and has brought a tremendous amount of emotion to Cayden’s rather unoriginal quest for revenge. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. In tonight’s episode, we had to bid this tremendously talented actor goodbye.

In an attempt to build to Emerson’s curtain call, “The Devil’s Greatest Trick” features flashbacks to the time before Cayden went full supervillain. While the flashbacks aren’t the strongest (part of me wishes the show would just abandon the gimmick entirely since none of the ones this season have been particularly effective), it does give Emerson a chance to play a different, softer side of Cayden. Eighteen months ago, Cayden was simply a hacktivist who sucked at being a father. Unfortunately, right as he was trying to get his act together for his son, he was arrested, and it fell on his captors to inform him of his son’s murder. Emerson played Cayden’s heartbreak perfectly, and these flashbacks at least recast Cayden’s whole crusade in a new light. Going after Oliver and the city is his attempt at making up for his failures when Owen was alive.

Needless to say, the flashbacks made it clear that Cayden isn’t long for this world, but it takes some time getting to that point. When the episode begins, Cayden vows to detonate the thermobaric bomb above Star City at midnight because Oliver broke their deal when he teamed-up with Sobel. This means Team Arrow has to race against the clock to find proof that Oliver didn’t kill Cayden’s son. However, there’s never any real sense of urgency; Arrow kind of moseys to the episode’s inevitable conclusion.

Luckily, Felicity and Alena manage to find proof of Oliver’s innocence; it was some knockoff assassin who was hired to use a bow and arrow to kill Cayden’s son in order to frame Oliver. With some speedy help from the Flash, Oliver catches Cayden before he leaves the city and presents him with the evidence. Cayden examines the real video and realizes someone in his cabal was responsible for his son’s death. Cue one of the episode’s most contrived story moves: Instead of diving head first into finding the real culprit, Cayden orders Oliver and Diggle to round up Black Siren, Diaz, and Anatoly and bring them to him, or else he will go through with his plan to destroy Star City. (Next: A Big Bad rises)

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